Health Corner: Kitchen Herbs- Carom Seeds (Ajwain)
This article will be covering yet another great spice in our kitchen – ‘ajwain’. Ajwain is known as ‘yavani’ in Sanskrit, Carom seeds in English, and ‘Tachyspermum copticum’ in Latin.
It is an annual shrub, cultivated primarily in Asia and some parts of Europe. In India, ‘ajwain’ from Indore, Ujjain and Gwalior is considered to be of top quality.
Seeds and leaves of the plant are the parts generally used, for culinary and medicinal purposes. Chemically, Thymol is the dominant essential oil found in the seeds and in the aerial parts like leaves, flowers, etc. Isothymol is predominant. Because of these oils, ‘ajwain’ smells like Thyme but is stronger and less subtle.
According to Ayurved, ‘ajwain’ is light and dry in property, and hot in potency. When essential oils obtained from ‘ajwain’ are cooled down, they solidify and are called ‘ajwain sat’, which is very commonly used as a medicine.
Therapeutic uses of ‘ajwain’ are described in Ayurved. It is considered as a powerful anti-spasmodic (pain reliever) and is therefore recommended in:
- Pain and bloating due to indigestion
- General gas pain (it is also carminative)
- Pain associated with diarrhea and dysentery.
- Pain associated with Kidney stones
- Painful menstruation
In all the above conditions, ‘ajwain’ can be chewed after roasting, or can be boiled to make an infusion, or can be distilled and then consumed; can be used alone or along with other similar acting spices like fennel seeds, cumin seeds, asafetida, black salt, rock salt, etc.
Since it is fast acting, it is especially useful in stomach ailments in kids. Because it very pungent if consumed directly, in kids its distilled form, commonly known as ‘ark ajwain’, is preferred.
- It is also effective in getting rid of intestinal worms, especially hook worms. In this, ½ tsp of roasted ‘ajwain’ should be mixed with jaggery and given empty stomach in the morning.
Other uses of ‘ajwain’ are:
- In cholera, ‘sat ajwain’, ‘sat pudina’ and camphor are used very effectively to control vomiting and frequency of motions. A very common preparation having all these 3 ingredients is ‘Amrit dhara’.
- ‘Sat ajwain’ is also used to relieve pain in dental caries.
- Chewing ‘ajwain’ seeds help remove bad breathe.
- A poultice made up of roasted ‘ajwain’ seeds, or direct application of steamed ‘ajwain’ leaves is very effective in relieving painful joints in Rheumatoid or Osteoarthritis. The same can be applied externally on a painful bloated abdomen.
- A decoction of the leaves can be used as an antiseptic wash for insect bites.
- Because of its mucolytic property, giving ‘ajwain’ powder internally and using a warm poultice on the chest or inhaling the smoke of ‘ajwain’ seeds through a ‘hookah’ or ‘chilam’, helps relieve a congested chest.
- One very interesting use is that chewing of ‘ajwain’ seeds helps lessen and then remove the addiction to alcohol.
Recommended doses are: ‘ajwain’ seeds powder – 3-6gms, ‘ajwain ark’ – 1-2 fl.oz., ‘ajwain sat’ – 25-100mg.
So we can all see that ‘ajwain’ is a very potent herb with excellent medicinal properties, present in our kitchens. In my next article, I’ll be talking about the ‘Ritucharya’ for ‘Varsha Ritu’.
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